February Flowers: Freesia and a Cabbage

February 29, 2012

You may recall that in the early days of 2012 I posted about my to-do list for the year. One of those things was to buy myself flowers every so often 'just because'. Well today, as it was the last day of February, I did just that.

Freesia on a bedside table

Freesia bouquet
I bought them at a little local store around the corner from my old apartment. It's the neatest flower store I've ever seen - it's not a fancy store, but they do have a walk-in flower refrigerator, and they invite you to walk in and choose your own flowers. I can spend a lot of time mixing and matching all the different blooms, and trying different combinations.

In January I purchased daisies (you can see them atop my new dresser here) and they lasted 3 weeks! I hope these new flowers last at least half as long. In case you're wondering the flowers I purchased are Freesia, purple Statice (I Googled it), and a cabbage. Yup, a cabbage. I know it's a little odd, but I like the colour combination.

As it seems to be developing into a bit of a trend,I think I'm going to try to change my goal from buying flowers every so often, to doing so once a month but with a budget of no more than twenty dollars (today's cost less than $16 with tax). What do you think? Is treating myself to flowers monthly silly and frivolous?


It's Awards Season - Oscars, Liebsters, and Homies and More

February 28, 2012

Did you watch the Oscars on Sunday? I did. I don't have cable, and after some frustration searching for a feed online I discovered that if I placed my antenna in the middle of my coffee table, and didn't move an inch from one spot on my couch I got perfect over-air reception. Unfortunately I don't think my efforts were worth the trouble - the show itself was a bit of a bore. There were a couple of redeeming moments, namely Christopher Plummer winning his first Oscar for his role in The Beginners (excellent movie BTW), and sporting his Order of Canada lapel pin while doing it!
Christopher Plummer - Oscars 2012
Christopher Plummer accepting his well deserved Oscar. Image: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
There was of course the Oscar fashion, but I won't really bore you with that (as I'm sure you've already seen all you really care to see about it) except this one picture of Michelle Williams:
Michelle Williams - Oscars 2012
Michelle Williams - Oscars 2012. Image source: Getty Images

I love Michelle Williams' style, but the reason this picture caught my attention isn't the dress, although it's gorgeous, it's the haircut. You see, back a few years ago I had a similar style:
Me with short heair
Sept 2009 - the day I chopped off all my hair for donation. should I cut my hair again?

I'm thinking about cutting it short again as my hair unfortunately now looks a bit more like this:
Cotton Mop head
Okay, enough about that. You may recall I recently posted about my being awarded a Leibster Blog award by Janet at 'Housefour'. Well since then I have been bestowed with a few more:

April at 'Money Pit Love' gave me the 7x7 award which asks for 7 facts about me, and I need to pass the award on to 7 other bloggers.

Michelle at 'The 236' gave me the Liebster award which as you know needs 5 facts and 5 nominations. Jo at 'As Is' also gave me the Liebster a few days later.

April at 'Money Pit Love' also 'Tagged me' which means I should give you 11 random facts about myself and 'tag' 11 other blogs.

As you can see, I've run into a wee problem. Each of these blogger bestowed awards asks that you nominate some other blogs and share some facts about yourself. If you've been keeping score that means in total I should nominate 28 blogs and share 28 random facts about yours truly with you. The wee problem I'm experiencing is I don't know of enough smaller blogs to nominate, and coming up with that many random facts is incredibly hard without resorting to what I had for breakfast this morning (tea and a toasted bagel with cream cheese).

I didn't want to ignore these wonderful bloggers so please go check out their blogs even though I won't be able to fulfill the requirements of these lovely awards. They are all talented ladies.

While you're off checking out new blogs be sure to check out some of the blogs that have been nominated so far for this years 'Homies' on Apartment Therapy. Quite a few of the blogs I read everyday have been nominated already and I look forward to discovering some more.

And to close - here are 5 random facts about me:
  • I had a goldfish named 'Chubby' as a child. Three guesses as to why ;)
  • I am the first of two children
  • It's my birthday next week :(
  • I am a MAJOR chocoholic
  • I speak French although it's a bit rusty from disuse. Would anyone like to send me to Paris so I can brush up?


My Dresser - A Follow-Up Post and a Feature

February 23, 2012

Since I posted about my refinished dresser I've received a couple of comments/questions about the hardware, so I thought I'd do a quick follow-up post. More about that in a minute.

First, I'd like to draw your attention to a new entry into the 'I've been Featured' section in the right margin of my blog. No, your eyes do not deceive you - my refinished dresser was featured on Apartment Therapy!! WooHoo! I will admit to being a little chuffed when I discovered it this past Sunday. If you'd like to read the article you can click on the icon and it will take you there.

Anyways, a few people commented about the fact that I was able to find replacement hardware for the pull that was very obviously missing in this 'Before' picture.
Damaged vintage dresser
My Craigslist Dresser
I have to admit I cheated a bit. I was only missing one of the medallions or rosettes, so I took one of the original rosettes to Lee Valley Tools and tried to find as close a match as possible using size and colour as the two main criteria. The pull I used was the 3" Antique Brass Petal Handle. Here is a closer picture of the miss-matched pull.
Replacement dresser hardware
The replacement rosette is on the left - the original is on the right

I also strategically placed the pull in the bottom drawer on the left side where it's close to the wall - this means it isn't immediately noticeable when you look at the chest of drawers. Can you see the difference in the picture below (This is admittedly not the best picture, but it would be the angle you'd see the dresser from)?
Refinished vintage dresser

In future I may make more of an effort to find an exact match for the rosette, but for now I'm happy to leave it as is.


I'd Like to Thank the Academy . .

February 14, 2012

Last week, Janet over at HouseFour very kindly awarded me the Liebster award! The award is awarded by fellow bloggers to blogs with fewer than 200 followers to introduce them to a larger audience.
Anyways, when I heard about this me first thought was 'What the heck is a liebster', so being the pseudo-nerd that I am I turned to the all-knowing wizard otherwise known as Google and asked. Apparently leibster is a German word meaning sweetheart, beloved person, darling or liked very much.

When you're awarded the Liebster award there are 5 rules that you must follow. They are:
  1. Choose five up-and-coming blogs to award the Liebster to. These five blogs must have fewer than 200 followers.
  2. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  3. Post the award on your blog.
  4. List the bloggers you gave the award to with links to their sites. Leave comments on their blogs so they know about the award.
  5. Share 5 random facts about yourself.
Anyways, I mentioned at the start of this post that Janet gave me this award last week, and you'd think that I'd immediately do a post about it. I would have except for one wee problem - it turns out that most of the blogs I read on a regular basis are quite well established and don't qualify as much as I'd love to recognize them. What was I to do? Well, I did what any self-respecting blog addict would do, and set out to discover a few new-to-me blogs who might qualify. So, after poking around quite a number of blogs over the past few days I've managed to round up a list of 5 blogs I really like. Some of the blogs below I've been reading for quite some time, some are fairly new to me - I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Anyways, here is the list of blogs I like (In no particular order)
(If I've awarded you this award and you have more than 200 followers I apologize- sometimes it's really hard to tell)

Okay, and on to that boring part of ever award show - you know, when those uncomfortable looking accountants come out and explain how the results were tabulated:

5 random facts about me:
  • I was born in Montreal, but grew up in Toronto
  • I HATE the cold. This can be a problem given I live in Canada
  • I was a synchronized swimmer growing up - even going to Nationals
  • I don't float, which makes the preceding random fact rather ironic
  • I LOVE to travel - the list of places I've visited is fairly long, but the list of places I want to see is even longer.


Valentine's Day Raspberry Window Cookies

February 11, 2012

I wanted to make something fun and tasty to gift my co-workers for Valentine's day, but I didn't want it to be anything too difficult or labour intensive. I decided on window cookies and simply used my mom's sugar cookie recipe.
Raspberry window cookies
I used two heart-shaped cookie cutters – one a little smaller than the other. I cut out the large hearts, and then removed the centers of half the shapes with the smaller cutter. I found the hearts retained their shape if I cut out the centers when the cookies were already on the baking sheet.

Once the cookies were baked and cooled, I spread seedless raspberry jam over the large shapes, and then used the jam to 'glue' the other shape on top. You could use any type of jam you like, but I prefer the look of the seedless variety.

Raspberry Window cookies on a tray

Once the jam has had a little time to set (it will remain a bit sticky) you can package the cookies in whatever manner you like to make them into a sweet Valentine's day treat. enjoy!
Packaged Raspberry window cookies

print recipe

Sugar Cookies
These easy window cookies are made using my mom's sugar cookies recipe.
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tsp vanilla
With the butter at room temperature, mix in the sugar and lightly beaten eggs.Add the rest of the ingredients, and with your hands mix it all together until you have a nice evenly mixed dough.Chill the dough for one hour or overnight.Roll out and cut out shapes as desired.Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until they are lightly brown.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 dozen cookies

Before & After

My Thank-God-It's-Finally-Finished Dresser Rehabilitation Project

February 07, 2012

Well, my Craigslist dresser is finally finished and I’m excited to show you what I managed to accomplish. Despite some very real fears before I started, I managed to refinish my dresser and didn't have to resort to painting it.
Damaged Vintage Dresser
My Craigslist Dresser
In case you missed my original post waaaayyyy back in October, here is what it looked like when I got it. It had great bones, but the missing veneer and other dings and scratches left the dresser looking very old and tired.
Damaged veneer on a vintage dresser
The damaged veneer along the top of my new dresser
The first thing I did was remove the entire front strip of veneer that was damaged. This was actually quite easy – I simply used a damp cloth to lay over the veneer, and then passed my hot iron over the cloth to moisten the glue. I then used a small putty knife to lift off the veneer. While the veneer did break up during this process I wasn’t concerned about it breaking as I wanted it all removed anyway.
Stripped vintage dresser
After the first round of stripping

My next step was stripping the old varnish from the dresser. I’d never done anything like this before, and it was an adventure to say the least. First up – this is REALLY smelly, so if you’re going to do anything like this get a respirator. I got mine at Home Depot for about $45, and I’m sure I’ll use it for many projects after this one. The chemical stripper I used is Greensolv from Lee Valley Tools. It’s pretty easy to use – just paint it on, let it work and scrape it off. Through trial and error I discovered that a thicker coat works much better, as if you paint it on too thinly it will dry before it has a chance to work. Some of the areas I had to do a second time. This step took me a while as I did each side, the front, top and drawers on different days, and spaced the days out so my apartment didn’t smell like chemicals permanently. This is when I got my first ever chemical burn – I was wearing gloves as directed, but stupidly wore a short-sleeved t-shirt. As I was scrapping the stripper off the dresser some went flying and landed on my forearm. I wiped it off, but a few seconds later knew that it wasn’t enough, and spent the next 10 minutes running cool tap water over it. Luckily there was no permanent damage, but if I'm ever working with these chemicals again I will remember to wear long sleeves. Chemical burns hurt A LOT, so please if you're ever using these chemicals learn from my mistake.
New wood veneer edgebanding
New walnut wood veneer from Lee Valley tools

Repairing the missing veneer was incredibly simple. I bought a strip of walnut veneer edge banding from Lee Valley tools, cut the length I needed and applied it. The veneer already has glue on it – all you need to do is lay a clean rag over the veneer, and then heat the veneer using your iron (my iron got more use on this dresser refinishing project than it has ever doing what it’s supposed to - ironing clothes). I had to do this step twice as on my first try the veneer shifted while it was ironing it. Luckily the edge banding is sold in 25’ lengths so I had quite a bit to spare. I also got the second burn of the project during this step - luckily this time it was only from the iron. After the veneer was glued on I trimmed the excess using an xacto knife, and then sanded the edges smooth.
Replacing wood veneer
I ironed the new veneer in place, trimmed off the excess, and sanded the edges.

Next up was my big adventure with sandpaper. I used fine 220 grit sandpaper over the entire dresser to remove any leftover old varnish, and to smooth any other marks. There were some old long burn marks on the top of the dresser that I believe are from two cigarettes that was left burning. I sanded them as far as I dared, but in the end I was afraid to sand too much in case I went all the way through the veneer. I’ve decided I rather like the marks – it shows that this dresser has a bit of history.

Then came the scary part - adding stain. I spent quite a bit of time in the stain aisle at Home Depot debating which shade I wanted. I didn't want anything too red, but I also didn't want anything too dark. Given my inexperience with this type of project in the end I just picked the middle of three shades and hoped for the best.
Minwax wood conditioner and stain
I used Minwax pre-stain wood conditioner and Minwax stain in dark walnut
Before adding the stain I gave the dresser a coat of pre-stain wood conditioner. I've never done anything like this before, so I can't tell you if it made any difference over any other project, but I can say that the stain went on my old dresser quite easily and there was no streaking. You just paint on the pre-stain, let it soak in, and wipe off the excess. The directions say to stain within two hours of using the conditioner, and with lots of trepidation I approached my dresser with a foam brush dipped in the stain, and starting applying it. As with the wood conditioner you paint it on, let it soak in, and then rub off the excess with a clean rag. I liked it after the first coat of stain, but I did a second coat to deepen the colour just a little and I liked it even more.

After the stain was applied it was time for the protective finish. I used clear Polycrylic in a semi-gloss sheen, and if I were doing it again I'd probably go with a satin finish. This step took a little longer than the stain as I did three coats (sanding with a fine-grade sandpaper between). I found it really hard to get the finish to be perfectly smooth. Try as I might I couldn't get all the brush marks out, but they're only noticeable from an angle in certain light and I'm more than pleased with the finished product.

Here is the finished product (there are a few pictures - I hope I'm forgiven as I'm rather proud):
Refinished vintage dresser

Repaired veneer
If I hadn't told you I replaced the veneer along the top would you be able to tell?
refinished walnut dresser

Detail of refinished dresser

Refinished dresser

So, what do you think? Was all the work, the fumes, the two burns and months of dodging dresser drawers in my dining room worth it? Are you tempted to try your hand at refinishing some furniture?


IDS12: Part 3 - Studio North

February 02, 2012

Studio North, the 'show within a show', was held at the Interior Design Show for the 10th year. The premise behind the show is to introduce the public to great Canadian design talent. I was incredibly impressed with the range of items these talented designers showcased - below is just a sampling of what I saw.

Jeremy Kehoe

Jeremy Kehoe is a furniture designer and woodworker from Toronto who uses as much sustainable and domestic woods as he can. 
IDS2012 - Jeremy Kehoe
I loved this table

Nomo Creations

This Orbit table from Nomo Creations received quite a bit of press during the show. The father and son team us materials that can be separated for recycling, and their products are designed to be able to shrink so they can be shipped in smaller packages.
IDS2012 - Nomo Creations
Orbit Table - Nomo Creations

Brothers Dressler

Twin brothers Jason and Lars Dressler are woodworkers from Toronto. Most of the wood seen in the dining room below was created using the wood from one tree that died in 2010.
IDS2012 - Brothers Dressler
The table and light were made from one tree

Tyler MacKenzie + Bettie Cott

I love the lines of Tyler MacKenzie's Radius Lounge chair, and Bettie Cott's Peaks and Valleys coatrack is whimsical and practical - I can easily imagine it in a child's room.
IDS2012 - Tyler MacKenzie and Bettie Cott
Radius Lounge Chair and Peaks and Valleys Coatrack

Kino Guérin

Kino Guérin's pieces are made from bent wood, and are stunning in person.
IDS2012 - Kino Guerin Knot bench
Knot Bench

IDS2012 - Kino Guerin Slate Blackboard
Recycled Slate Blackboard
That's the last of my pictures from IDS12 - I hope I managed to show you some of the great things there were to see at the show, and maybe encouraged you to make a visit to the show next year - I know I'll be going - I can't wait to see what is new then.


IDS12: Part 2

February 01, 2012

Alright, I'm back with some more pictures from the Interior Design Show. I've got a little more zip than yesterday so I'm going to add some words to my pictures!

First up we have one of the groupings put together in the By_Lissoni_Lounge. I'm sorry for the slightly wonky picture, but Lynda Reeves was sitting on one of the couches behind me interviewing someone and I was a little star struck (I did take a picture, but it's not very good - her eyes are closed), so as I'd like the publisher and founder of House&Home magazine to like me I'll keep it to myself).
IDS2012 - By_Lissoni Lounge at IDS12
By_Lissoni Lounge at IDS12
I came across the booth for a store in Toronto called Snobstuff. I loved pretty much everything the owner was showing. All the pieces come from Southern Africa - the owner hails from Zimbabwe, and a portion of each sale goes to the Canadian Red cross to combat malaria. This store is now at the top of my list of must visit stores - if only to see what other great things she has.
IDS2012 - Snobstuff
The light was made by asking 25 people to wrap a rod of brass around their waists - their names were then engraved on the inside of the ring. I love the wire giraffe.

This booth by UpCountry is lovely - I love the mix of warm worn leather and the industrial metal chests mixed with the crystal chandeliers, and of course the British flags.
IDS2012 - UpCountry
Love the wood wall and the warm brown leather. the Metal chests are very 'in' - Restoration Hardware has some as well.

Next up is Elte. They had a rather large booth, and unlike some others had prices listed on many items.
IDS2012 - Elte
Love the Eames lounge chair and industrial light fixture. I also like that they used an area rug on the wall like a tapestry.

This next image was something that confused me a bit. Do these wire baskets look to anyone else like the ones you get golf balls in at the driving range? They do to me, but these ones were $115 each.
IDS2012 - Elte Baskets
Elte - Are these driving range ball baskets??

This was something that Elte did that I loved, and I think is a neat twist on the now (in my opinion) rather overdone subway sign art - individually framed street signs.
IDS2012 - Elte Framed Street Signs
Elte - Framed Street Signs

Take a look at this incredibly interesting chair that was made completely out of Corian (yes, that stuff counter tops are made of). It was part of a collaboration between Dupont Corian and UUfie.
IDS2012 - UUfie - Corian chair
Uufie - chair made out of Corian

This 'Spider Phoebe' chair from Limitless with its bendable legs was rather popular. I wish I'd sat in it - it looks like it would be fun.
IDS2012 - Spider Chair
Spider 'Phoebe' chair

I loved this booth from Jean Gardner Designs - I'm pretty sure it was the curtains that did it.
IDS2012 - Jean Gardiner Designs
Love the curtains

This ottoman/coffee table made me want to rethink my current coffee table (from Gresham House furniture).
IDS2012 - Gresham House
Large Upholstered Ottoman with Tray - I love the muted colours

Last for today is the marvelous wall of peacock feathers that was used to back artwork in the How do you live? exhibit.
IDS2012 - How do you live - Peacock Feathers
Gorgeous Peacock feathers all over the wall, but I'm not sure anyone would ever recreate this.

I've got just more IDS12 post for you tomorrow - I'll show you some of the great Canadian designs from the Studio North exhibit.

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